Authors: Becca Jameson
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2011, Becca Jameson. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
Kristen Nickels has a full plate. She has reluctantly agreed to a blind date with her best friend's brother, literally blind! The timing couldn't be worse, however. She is leaving town in just days to face a difficult medical decision. A secret she has shared with no one but her boss.
Chase Edwards has been blind since the age of eight. He is currently waiting on a cornea transplant. He has wanted his sister, Margo, to set him up with her friend Kristen for quite some time, and he is far from disappointed.
The two experience instant chemistry and spend a glorious evening together. In a whirlwind twist of fate, Chase gets the long awaited call in the middle of the night that corneas are available and Kristen rushes him to the hospital, only to disappear without a trace during his surgery.
Baffled by her departure, Margo instigates a search for Kristen while Chase recovers from his transplant. But will her detective skills prove to be enough? The unexpected ending will twist the heartstrings.
To my sister, Annmarie McKenna, who seems to have literally yanked me, however unintentionally, into this crazy world of writing. And to my critique partner, Mackenzie McKade, who devoted a lot of time and “ink” helping me squeeze this first story out.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Nickels. Yes.”
“But, sometimes you’re wrong, right? Could there be a mistake? Maybe I should get another opinion.” Kristen reached for her briefcase filled with medical papers on the floor next to her. From her seated position across from the third doctor she had visited this week, she glanced up at his furrowed brow.
How many more opinions do you need, Kristen?
She started to get up and then paused. The air was stifling.
A large mahogany desk took up most of the office. It was so pristine she wanted to reach over and mess up the papers stacked neatly in the corner. Every item in its place, even an ink pen sat precisely situated upon forms in front of the doctor. Too bad her life felt anything other than neat and tidy right now. She was spiraling out of control.
Dr. Hanson raised an eyebrow at her, but said nothing. He just sat there in his gray pinstriped suit and waited. Even his perfectly coifed hair was in place. Gray—to match his suit, his walls, and Kristen’s mood.
Kristen was sweating. She needed to make a decision. She couldn’t put it off any longer. Time was wasting.
“Okay,” she stated flatly on a long exhale. Her shoulders slouched in defeat and she dropped her briefcase back on the floor. “What do we do next?”
. Absolutely not!” Kristen Nickels glared at her closest friend, Margo Edwards. She couldn’t very well walk away from her—not while trapped in an elevator listening to Margo’s latest proposal.
The classy-looking brunette entwined her fingers before her, stopping short of getting down on her knees. “Please? I’d do it for
“The hell you would—” Kristen grabbed the rail as the elevator pulled to a jerky halt, gripping her toes in her three-inch heels to keep from tumbling over. The door moaned open, but no one was there. With her luck the darn thing would probably stop at every single floor on the way to the eleventh, where they had both worked for the last five years. And it would undoubtedly get stuck between floors in a conspiracy attempt to force Kristen to listen to her friend’s pleadings. She should have known it was leading up to this all through their lunch break.
“Look, I know it’s a lot to ask, but I promise my brother is awesome, and you two will get along great. I can’t bear the thought of going on a blind date alone and I’m just dying to meet this friend of his.”
Time to buck up and put her foot down before things got out of hand. Margo’s whine of desperation was getting on Kristen’s nerves. And, was it not getting hotter by the minute in the oppressive elevator? Kristen tugged uncomfortably on the neckline of her blouse. To make matters worse, someone must have eaten their lunch on the run today, because the enclosure smelled like a tuna fish sandwich.
“You know I hate blind dates.” They never turned out well. Besides, Margo was aware Kristen had been extremely busy with work this month. Of course, she had no idea what else was currently eating up Kristen’s time and attention. But Kristen had no intention of sharing any of her private life with anyone right now, even her best friends. She just wasn’t ready. Oh, who was she kidding? She didn’t want to deal with their pity. The looks they would send her way when they thought she couldn’t see them.
Why is she asking me to do this?
“Yes, but this wouldn’t be the same as a
blind date. It’s my brother. He’s…he’s like a…a brother. Besides, you wouldn’t be alone. I’d be there too, and Ryan.” Margo tilted her head and drawled the word “Ryan” like he was the object of the affections of a sixth grader. Did she think this was a persuasive argument?
“Margo, look, you are one of my dearest friends. I’d do almost anything for you, but blind dates always turn out bad for me, and a ‘double date’ with your brother is still a blind date for me. I’ve never even met him. And, who is this guy you are ‘dying’ to meet?”
There. Way to hold your ground, Kristen. You don’t have time for this right now.
“Ryan’s a friend of my brother’s. I’ve seen him, well, even been introduced to him, a few times when I’ve gone by my brother’s office. Chase always talks about him…”
“That’s funny. You never talk about Chase. I don’t know anything about your brother. What, is he ugly? Old? Fat…”
“Blind.” Margo’s voice softened. Her bright blue eyes grew misty. “He’s blind.”
Kristen’s jaw dropped as she sucked in a quick breath, silencing her tirade. Stunned, she looked down at her prim black skirt and picked at an imaginary piece of lint. “Seriously?”
Margo nodded. “Yes.”
Could I possibly feel like more of an ass right now?
Kristen didn’t know how to respond. But she was definitely losing ground. The elevator opened and a man in an Armani suit stepped in. No one spoke as the elevator crawled to the next floor and the man exited.
Margo cleared her throat. “Listen, like I said, I know it’s a lot to ask… But I promise you’ll have a good time. I didn’t want to tell you about his disability because I didn’t want it to influence your decision. I was hoping I could convince you to go without playing the ‘blind’ card. It’s just dinner…” She paused. “Screw it. I’ll get Theresa or Sally to go. Don’t worry about it.”
possibly feel like more of an ass.
Kristen’s shoulders drooped. “No, no, no. I’ll go. This Friday, right?” That was pushing it. She had so much to do before Sunday. Guilt rode her, but in all honesty, Margo had a way of talking Kristen into almost anything. The last time the two went out on a double date, Kristen’s escort was so into himself he didn’t shut up the entire evening. He’d gone on and on about his important job as an accountant, his BMW, his house in the suburbs. Kristen winced at the memory. She’d gotten exhausted from listening to him. He’d never once asked about
. Granted, he’d been a friend of the guy Margo was dating at the time. Not someone Margo had personally set her up with. But still…
“Really?” Margo’s brows shot upward. A smile spread across her mouth. “Thank you so so so much. I promise I’ll make it up to you. And I promise it will be fun.” Margo was a bit too gleeful for someone who just had their feelings hurt. The elevator ground to a halt and the two made their way into the hall.
“Did you just guilt me into this on purpose?” Kristen pushed her long hair behind her ear and glared at her friend, trying hard to be angry, and saw the answer written on her face. Margo had a look of satisfied relief.
. Knowing Margo, the entire conversation was a set up.
. How bad could it be? Maybe a little fun would take her mind off other matters for an evening.
Besides, she felt guilty about not telling Margo that Friday was her last day of work. She’d given her notice immediately after leaving the doctor’s office two weeks ago. This would be one last thing she could do for Margo. Maybe they would have a great time and end their relationship with a fond memory. What could it hurt? Come Monday morning, Kristen’s life was about to drastically change.
* * * *
“Come on, Kristen.” For the umpteenth time, Margo banged on the bathroom door. She’d arrived early, as usual, to find Kristen not quite ready. The two of them had moved into the same apartment complex two years ago, when their respective leases had been up. It made life a lot easier, not having to fight traffic to get back and forth across town to get together. “We’re going to be late. I told them seven. What are you doing in there anyway?”
In the years Kristen had known her friend, she could count on one hand the number of times Margo had been late. No, not just late, but anything less than fifteen minutes early. The girl was all spunk. Always beyond prompt and peppy. It was one of the reasons Kristen enjoyed her company so much. Always shiny side up. Not a bad way to be.
Large green eyes stared back at Kristen in the mirror. “Coming. Just give me a minute.” She dabbed another layer of dark mascara. “Finishing my makeup.” For five years the two had been friends, ever since they had literally run into each other coming out of their respective offices in the Simon Building. Kristen double-checked her long brown hair, giving it a fluff. She chuckled remembering the time they met. Both had had an armful of papers that went spraying into the air and flying around the hallway like paper airplanes. It had taken so long to straighten out the mess the pair had become fast friends by the end. Of course, Margo was the easiest person in the world to talk to. She could make friends with an ant if it were the only living being around.
“You did hear me say Chase is blind, right?” Margo’s muffled voice couldn’t hide the humor behind it.
“Ha, ha. I’m still not going out to a restaurant looking like a slob. There will be other people there, you know.” Kristen ambled out of the bathroom feeling a bit apprehensive, hoping like hell she didn’t say anything stupid and offend Margo’s brother this evening. She had no experience dining with a blind person. “Where are we going, anyway?”
“Giovanni’s. It’s a little Italian restaurant downtown. Chase loves the place. Their food is excellent, so he goes there often. Shall we go?” Margo headed to the door without waiting for an answer.
“Wait, do I look okay? Am I overdressed?” Kristen was plain nervous. Blind dates were hard enough, but the stress of going out with her best friend’s brother… There was no way to judge this evening’s attire based on what Margo was wearing, a sexy little black dress and pumps that made her legs a mile long, because Margo always dressed to kill. Besides, she was the one out to impress.
Why are you even stressing about this? It’s just one night.
What difference did it make if he was a toad? She would never see him again. She needed to lighten up and enjoy this evening.
Margo paused and turned toward her. “I’m sorry. Guess I’m a little anxious. You look fantastic. I wish my brother could actually see you. You would knock him off his feet. Kristen, you always look great. You have the most beautiful, straight, long silky hair men just want to run their fingers through, and a perfectly proportionate body that…well, men just want to run their hands over.” She laughed at her own jest.
Kristen reached up to smooth her hair. What would it be like to not have it anymore?
“I sound sappy. But, really, you know I love that black miniskirt. After all, who picked it out for you? And that blouse is the perfect shade of green to bring out your eyes.”
Margo’s candor stunned Kristen. Her cheeks grew hot. “Thank you, Margo. Those were very sweet things to say,” she practically mumbled.
Sure, girls traipse off to the bathroom together and fix their makeup and hair, but they don’t always take the time to pump up each other’s egos so eloquently.
“Come on. Don’t get all sentimental on me.” Margo smiled. “I’m just saying you don’t need to be so nervous. You look fantastic. Any man in his right mind would think so too, even my brother.”
Kristen wanted to ask what Chase was like, but hadn’t. Really, what did it matter? She was going on this blind date with him anyway, and if he was anywhere near the same gene pool as Margo, he would have to be stunning. Would he be tall and lean like his sister? Would his hair have the same thick texture with perfect waves that gave it just the right amount of body? What color were his eyes?
“Well, I guess we should go. Don’t want to be late.” Kristen tried to sound a bit mocking to lighten the mood. “I’ll just grab my purse…”
“Yeah, that will be hard to find beneath all this clutter.” Margo laughed. It was an ongoing joke between them. Kristen was the neat freak; Margo was anything but.
“Hey, I like to keep my apartment tidy. It makes me feel good. Okay?” She couldn’t help but chuckle. And even found herself straightening the jeweled-toned plaid pillow on her perfectly angled beige couch on their way through the living room, just to make her point.
Margo pushed it back the way it was on her way by just to be a brat.
“I’ll drive. I have a lot to do this weekend, so I can’t drink too much.” A cursory glance around the apartment brought on a bout of melancholy. She wasn’t willing to let go of the place yet. She just wasn’t ready for that. She’d deal with it later.